Ferndale musician organizes concert to help food donation project
FERNDALE — Two years ago in a dream, St. Clair Shores resident Mike Ash found inspiration to help others.
“I had a dream one night about helping feed the hungry, and I never remember my dreams, but for some reason, that resonated with me,” Ash said, acknowledging the “cheesy” sound of his inspiration. “The next day, I called my dad and asked him what he thought of an idea I had to help. Then we called a couple buddies, and since then, we have just been working to get this dream done.”
What came out of Ash’s dream was Attack Hunger, a not-for-profit limited liability company that donates food and water to shelters around metro Detroit. Ash, 30, has put together care packages consisting of granola bars, trail mix and bottled water, and for every one he sells to the public, he donates one to a shelter.
However, Ash is basically running the business himself, usually working out of the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, and he also splits time with his full-time job.
When Ferndale resident Chris Degnore met Ash at the Rust Belt Market, he said he instantly connected with his vision and wanted to help. At 8 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Trinity House Theatre in Livonia, Degnore, a musician, is hosting a concert with proceeds going to help Attack Hunger.
“Mike has a booth at the Rust Belt Market, and I met him there, and over the last few years, we have become friends, and I liked what he was doing,” Degnore said. “He works three jobs, and any spare time he has is going to feed the hungry in Detroit. I figured he was struggling, so I got some friends together to put on a show and Attack Hunger will get a big chunk of the ticket sales.
“(Ash) is pretty much a one-man show, but he has been doing a lot over the last few years to help others.”
Degnore, 28, is the lead man in Chris Degnore and the Black Drops, but he said this concert is separate from his band. He will be teaming with about eight other musicians during the concert.
None of the musicians will get paid for performing, and the Trinity House Theatre is only taking from the ticket sales what it needs to operate. Ash also will have a booth set up in the lobby to sell his food packages and T-shirts, which go toward purchasing more food for the shelters.
“This is just one of those things that I see him every weekend, and I felt like I needed to lend a hand and help him,” Degnore said. “I like everything he was doing, and I figured so many musicians and bands look forward to playing in a bar and making some money, they might as well put it toward something better for once.”
Most of the shelters Ash helps are for women and children, he said, as he decided that was a good start, and he will expand if he can bring in more money. Over the last two years, he has received help from family and friends, but it has been his passion that has driven the project.
“I came from a very humble home in Harper Woods, and I went to school in Grosse Pointe Woods, which has a definite difference in lifestyle and resources and all of that than everything else around it,” Ash said. “I think there are people that really want to help out and they see these people that need the help, so I kind of put myself in as the middle man. I truly believe people want to help, even if they don’t know the means to do so.”
As most musicians starting out could do, Degnore said he could relate to Ash’s struggles in getting a constant stream of funds to support his project. That is part of the reason, he said, that he wanted to help him with a concert.
“I am by no way going to say I am successful, but in this local area, I have been able to find work enough, musically,” Degnore said. “I understand starting off, especially something like (Ash) is doing. People don’t always get it when you say you are helping the hungry. They think of people bugging them for money on the streets, but there are families that need food and help, and that is the point he is trying to get across.”
To have someone in the community step up and help out means a lot, Ash said. He hopes this is the start of other collaborations not only with his organization, but with anyone trying to help others.
“It is fantastic that this guy who is doing something completely not in the same spectrum as what I do, he reaches out and is doing what he can to help,” Ash said. “This is a really cool collaboration and really great of Chris. He is a self-employed musician, and he may not be thriving right now, but for him to say he has this talent and he can apply it in a good way, it is just great.”